Butler County's great daily newspaper

Houston, Pa. man appeals homicide by vehicle conviction to Pa. Superior Court

June 14, 2019 News Extra

This was the scene of the truck-motorcycle accident that claimed the life of Dale T. Major in 2016.

This is an excerpt — pick up Sunday's Butler Eagle to read more about the case.

A man convicted of killing a motorcyclist on Route 8 in 2016 is questioning the fairness of his trial by appealing to the state's Superior Court. Arguments on the case will begin next week.

A jury last summer found Michael T. Burns, 39, of Houston, Pa., guilty on all charges for killing a motorcyclist on July 26, 2016. The conviction concluded a three-day trial that revolved around questions of Burns' responsibility as a certified commercial driver to recognize the faulty braking system that resulted in the death of Dale T. Major. Burns' defense argued that the fault was on Burns' employer, but prosecutors said during the trial that Burns, as a 15-year truck driving veteran, should have known better.

At the center of these two sides was testimony from Middlesex Township officer Conrad Pfeifer, who testified that the Sterling truck Burns drove that day was obviously unfit for the heavy-load task. Pfeifer was used as an expert witness. But in Burns' appeal to the Superior Court, his defense team claims that Judge William Shaffer, who presided over the trial, shouldn't have permitted Pfeifer to be entered as an expert witness.